THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAINS

If you wonder how the modern world evolved to the point where we’re allowing the beautiful mountans of Appalachia to be blown off and discarded like trash in order to more profitably and easily extract the coal—-perhaps this long quote from Richard Tarnas’s book COSMOS will provide you with the answer.


RICHARD TARNAS:
“…the course of history brought about a deep schism between humankind and nature, and desacralization of the world. This development coincided with an increasingly destructive exploitation of nature, the devastation of traditional indigenous cultures, a loss of faith in spiritual realities and an increasingly unhappy state of the human soul, which experienced itself as ever more isolated, shallow and unfulfilled.
In this perspective, both humanity and nature are seen as having suffered grievously under a long, exploitative, dualistic vision of the world, with the worst consequences being produced by the oppressive hegemony of modern industrial societies empowered by Western science and technology.
The nadir of this fall is the present time of planetary turmoil, ecological crisis and spiritual distress, which are seen as the direct consequences of human hubris, embodied above all in the spirit and structure of the modern Western mind and ego.
This second historical perspective reveals a progressive impoverishment of human life and the human spirit, a fragmentation of original unities and ruinous destruction of the sacred community of being.
Something like these two interpretation of history here described in starkly contrasting terms for the sake of easy recognition, can be seen to inform many of the more specific issues of our age. They represent two basic antithetical myths of historical self-understanding: the myth of Progress and what in its earlier incarnation was called the myth of the Fall. These two historical paradigms appear today in many variations, combinations and compromise formations.
They underlie and influence discussions of the environmental crisis, globalization, multiculturalism, fundamentalism, feminism and patriarchy, evolution and history.
One might say these opposing myths constitute the underlying argument of our time: whither humanity? Upward or downward? How are we to view Western civilization, the Western intellectual tradition, its canon of great works? How are we to view modern science, modern rationality, modernity itself?”

Memory From Good Old Days

Once, when I was a young girl at the age of nine, I dreamed I wrote a book. When I saw the title on the cover with my name beneath it, I was amazed! For days afterwards I would try to remember the title, but couldn’t. Although the dream had planted the idea in my mind I told nobody about it. I believed it was foolish to even think I could do such a thing. Others would shame me if they knew of my conceit, that I even dared to dream I had written a book! Who was I to think I could write something others would want to read?

Forward thirteen years to age twenty-two. I had recently married and was also expecting my first child. I confided in my new husband, telling him I’d always wanted to write (the first time I’d ever dared to tell anyone!). “Then why aren’t you writing?” he said, as if what I’d said was not outrageously ridiculous! Duh! Don’t ask me why I didn’t know that if I wanted to write I should be writing! Perhaps it was the result of an inferiority complex. But after that I began taking pen to paper. When I later read what I’d written I blushed with embarrassment. The writing was full of cliches. As much as I had read, and I’d always been an avid reader, I knew too many cliches meant poor writing.

Forward to age thirty-three, the mother of four young children, all in school. I dared to enroll in a writer’s workshop. We had this wonderful teacher who had us put our writing on a large blackboard and the class would critique what we’d written. Thankfully, sharing our writing with the class was not required. Perhaps Mr. Young (bless his heart!) knew I was very insecure about my writing and did not draw attention to me or pressure me. I remember thinking one evening that my writing was just as good as some of the other writings on the board and I began posting mine.

That’s how my first written piece (besides all the ones I’d rejected and thrown away, of course) was written. Mr. Young told me it was publishable and to send the mss to Good Old Days magazine, a nostalgic publication. My piece was called “The Log Train,” a short story about my siblings and I watching for the log train to come out of the hollow where we lived in the Kentucky Mountains, how we played in the meadow beside the old tracks and called “Log Train’s Coming” when we heard the screeching of the iron wheels on the metal tracks. It was during a glorious yet short time in our young lives after our dad had died leaving a widow and eight children, the older children caring for and providing for the younger ones, my baby brother age six and me age eight.

March 1973 Issue

I cannot tell you how that short piece of writing, taking up only one page in the magazine, changed my life. No, I didn’t become a “writer”, so to speak, except for a few pieces here and there and finally a family book in 2006 called “Stories of a Kentucky Mountain Family As Told by Two Sisters and a Brother,” in which I also included many of my eldest brother and only sister’s writings.

Back to the day I received two copies of the March 1973 edition of the magazine: I hadn’t heard back about my submission until the day I received the copies. My little story was on page 11 (my birth path number in numerology). I looked at the printed page in wonder (I later received a check for $9.00). What it did for my self-esteem was unimaginable. As if it confirmed to me that I was still alive. And I still marvel at the change it made in my life, which is too much to go into here. But the latest thing that’s happened regarding the outcome of the story of The Log Train may be hard to believe. Although I saved the magazine for a while, during several moves and interruptions it disappeared. I had lost track and forgotten how important it had once been in my life.

Click image to read the story

This July (2019) 4th my daughter Teresa, her husband and two of my grandchildren went to Des Moines to celebrate the 4th with my son-in-law’s family. On the way home they stopped at a place called Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Altoona, Iowa, and were browsing. They came across some Good Old Days magazines and Teresa called me to find out what year my little story The Log Train was published in the magazine. I can’t believe it took me awhile to remember (I’m getting old so I had to dig deep!) but I finally timed it because I suddenly remembered that when I began studying Astrology I learned I’d had a progressed New Moon that began the very same month the story appeared in the magazine, which was March, 1973.

Teresa learned someone on eBay had the Good Old Days magazines for that year. She bought them for me. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hold the copy with my story in my hands. I hadn’t realized fully until now how such a “small” thing (in many ways) had changed my life for the better. It’s also amazing that Teresa, who was only nine years old that year remembered that pivotal time and that she sensed how important it was to me. I am blessed in so many ways.

Well Blow Me Down and Call Me Flossie

When I was fifteen I worked one summer in Don’s Restaurant in Hazard, Kentucky. My name was Flossie. Don had such a turnover in waitresses he couldn’t remember our names so he used a few favorites remembered from ages past. Assuming there’d been a Flossie, that is. So I said “Blow me down and call me Flossie!” After all, he was paying me fifty cents an hour.

We had a tip box to put our gratuities in (I’m more sophisticated now) to be divided up weekly. Like a good little Flossie I put all my tips, excuse me, gratuities, in the box during the first week but when it came time to receive my cut, I only received four dollars.

I complained to the other girls that my tips, excuse me, gratuities, had been more than that for half-a-day. They laughed at me. “We don’t put it all in,” they said, “just a dollar here and there.” In other words I had shared all my own tips, excuse me, gratuities, with them, but they had shared only a smidgeon of theirs with me. The scale had been weighted to their side. I wondered why they hadn’t told me ahead of time. That’s how green I was. I’m more sophisticated now.

Okay, I said, and the next week I only put in a couple of dollars. But I felt dishonest. “Oh, he knows,” one girl said, “he don’t care.” And, since we were all in cahoots, I figured it was okay. But my conscience still bothered me, just a smidgeon. I’d been taught that rules were rules and were meant to be followed.

Although I never became a corrupt politician, nor even an honest one for that matter, I wonder if that’s how it begins? If we all do it, then it’s okay. Let’s vote ourselves some special benefits, set up different rules, just for us.

Of course none of this is actually vocalized. Most likely they just breathe in that rarefied stink in the air that wafts off the old farts who’ve been corrupting Washington for years, and they know without vocalizing that this is how things are done in Washington, DC.

A Boil on the Presidency?

If you’ve ever suffered from boils you know how painful they are. They have to be lanced and drained in order to heal.

Although I don’t remember the following family story as I was only a toddler, an older brother told me about the days when we lived in poverty due to the early death of our father.

The trouble began with an outbreak of boils. To bring the boils to a head and give relief from the pain our mother applied hot compresses, probably from a solution of Epsom salts, and/or soda and boric acid powder in boiling water.

But more boils continued to break out. Finally, Mom sought the advice of a wise old hill woman who told her we were all suffering from an evil in the blood. She said to have the older boys gather burdock, a weed that was plentiful in the hills, and make a tea from it. Everyone in the family should drink the tea and it would soon remove the evil that was tainting our blood. At last we found relief.

I researched and found that burdock has been used since the Middle Ages as a blood purifier and treatment for boils. As well as a host of other ailments. Interestingly, the article’s advice was: “Do not gather burdock in the wild.”

Evidently because “The roots of burdock closely resembles those of belladonna or deadly nightshade”. Now was that a narrow escape or what? One mistake and the solution to our problem might’ve killed us. Not unlike, I think, some treatments for cancer today that kill the good cells as well as the bad.

What a mixed-up world we live in! Everything appears to come down to trial and error. Pure luck appears to determine the outcome.

I can’t help but wonder what evil force has infected the blood of our country. Rising like a boil to the surface with hate messages running amok.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a boil on the presidency.

Upon the Tinkling Creek

Cousin Charles SwearenginI just learned my cousin Charles Swearengin passed away this morning. He’s pictured to the right. The following poem is excerpted from our Kentucky book and was written and addressed to Charles by my brother many years ago. May they both rest in peace.

Upon The Tinkling Creek
Composed By Byrd Adams, Jr.

Let’s talk across the mountain, Charles
And down the hollow road,
Passing by the old graveyard
Remembering tales of old:
How Granddaddy built his house
Upon the tinkling creek,
Adding rooms as babies came
To fill a mansion, sweet
Aunts and Uncles now grown old,
And I along with them,
To fill this sacred country with
Our voices growing dim.
Pause to rest a moment here,
My rifle on my knee,
To take a rabbit on the ground,
Or gray squirrel in a tree.
I’m in no mood to fire a shot
Upon this sacred day,
Where rabbits hop, and stop, and hop,
And gray squirrels come to play.
I’d rather pause among my kin
To spend a day or week,
Here where Granddaddy built his house
Upon the tinkling creek.